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Name : Richard B.

My Reviews

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful

We had a very good discussion about the book and author. Many parallels to life and other situations one has to deal with.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Brilliant
The Giver

Our book club had a very long and intense discussion of this book. The Giver (Receiver) is the only one to retain all the memories (both the good, pleasurable, the bad and the painful ones). It is the Giver's job to pass on all of these memories to Jonas, a 12 year-old. What affect does this position have for both of them? How has the community been changed so on one ever suffers and how does this help or hurt them? How are we like or different from this futuristic community today? What happens in the end is left up to you to decide.

The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Kitchen House

A 7 year old Irish girl, who parents have died on the passage over, is taken as an indentured servant by the captain. She is put with the Big House slaves to be raised and taken care of. This of course leads her to believe it is the slaves who are her family and not those who live in the big house. How does this later affect her life beliefs and choices is what the rest of the book is about. This is the author's first book and she does a good job of making the historic period come alive. You won't want to put the book down until you find out how it ends.

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Inspiring
The Timekeeper

Time, it either goes to fast or to slow BUT we always want more of it. How did time begin and how did it affect mankind is the theme of this book. When done with this book you will wonder what you are doing with your time and is it being used in the best way for yourself and you will learn to appreciate your precious time. Even though this is a short, easy to read book, it has some beautiful, thoughtful quotes to think and talk about.

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
Dark, Gloomy, Difficult
Drowning Ruth

A strange family story that takes place between the two World Wars in a Wisconsin setting. I found the theme to be somewhat confusing. A very dark, gloomy story.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Difficult, Insightful
A Tale for the Time Being

You will have to give yourself time to get into this book. I almost put it down but because it was for a book club I kept on reading. Once I got to page 100 I thought, "this is kind of heavy!" By the time I got to page 200 I was into it. Very thought provoking, lots of issues, ideas and thoughts to talk about.

The Aviator's Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Aviator's Wife

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who is she, what was life like for her married to the most famous person in the world at the time and how did her life change over time? All of these questions can be answered by reading this historical fiction book. Lots to discover about Anne, the times and their relationships.

Thief of Glory: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer
Book Club Recommended
Thief of Glory

Very powerful. About the coming of age of a 10 year old Dutch boy who must endure and survive being in a Japanese prison camp. You won't see the end coming. Lots of foreshadowing but you won't see it until you have finished the book and reflected back on it. One of the best fictions book's we have read in some time. All in our group agreed this was a GREAT read.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Insightful
The Boston Girl

A granddaughter asks her grandmother how she became the woman she is. So begins the story that covers the life of Addie from 1915 to 1985. A nice way to read about history and life during that time period. Gives one a good review of the early changes in women's lives and the woman's movement. Change can be hard not just for the parents but for the children who are trying to become independent and progressive too. We can all relate to this story by looking back at our past and see all the changes both positive and negative that have occurred. We all enjoyed the book.

Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting, Insightful
The Memory Keepers Daughter

Why would a doctor give away his twin daughter at birth and never tell his wife or son? How has this decision affected his life and his relationship with his family? At what point does he finally realize that that decision has destroyed him and his relationships. Finally why is it called the Memory Keepers Daughter and what symbolism does his photography play/mean to the story?

Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Insightful
The Rosie Project

Is it possible for a person with Asperger's to find love? Find out how Don use his disability to find the perfect match, or is it, in The Rosie Project. You will laugh at times and feel frustrated at other times in reading this author's debut novel.

The Ripper Gene: A Novel by Michael Ransom
Book Club Recommended
Poorly Written, Interesting, Adventurous
The Ripper Gene

Very good effort for a first novel (like most mystery writers first try). It was a page turner but I felt it was taking some large leaps at points. I found at least two errors in the text. Having said that the story does keep you interested and leaves you to question if a true gene is discovered to identify serial killers, then can one be excused for what one does? Makes for a good discussion. Once you find out the reason why the serial killer kills it spins the book into a total different direction. With more fiction writing experiences the author could become the next Lee Child or Clive Cussler, or Kathy Reichs.

The Lifeboat: A Novel by Charlotte Rogan
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Poorly Written, Insightful
The Lifeboat

A pretty good story for the author's first attempt. Written from the viewpoint of one of the Lifeboat's survivor, Grace Winter. If one put yourself in that Lifeboat you can well imagine all of the events and situations and clicks that form or occur. Mrs. Grant is seen as the humanitarian and Hardie the fiend, but in the end how is one different than the other? Grace is seen as indecisive and not taking sides, but when looking back one wonders on innocent she is in all of this and how conniving she is? We had a good discussion on the story.

Neverhome by Laird Hunt
Interesting, Adventurous, Brilliant

This book had so much potential. But about half way through, the book goes from the main character being Gallant Ash to being accused of being a spy and a thief. To me it was all downhill from that point on. The colonel, who knew Ash was a female says to her at one point, "I know your not a spy, or a whore so you must be insane." Yet he knew she was strong and gallant and brave, so how did this all go South so fast and so far. To me it was probably the worse book we have read in a long long time. We found it very confusing, more like a mismatch of ideas.

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Informative
The Truth According To US

What can the hiding and lying about your past cost you? And who's version of history do you believe when investigating the past history of a community. A young girl who goes off on her own when her Senator father cuts her off and is sent to a small town to write for the Writers Project the history of the town learns about what real life is like. She goes from being not accepted, the outsider, to becoming involved and a part of the family she is staying with. There is much to be learned and discuss from the reading of this story.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Dramatic
Escape from Camp 14

This is the story of a man born in a North Korean political prison Camp (14). He is the only known political prisoner, born in a political prisoners camp, to have escaped a death camp and to have survived. What is life like in a camp like this? Why is he born and raised there? How is he and others there conditioned or cultural brain washed into accepting their position and conditions. What is life like in North Korea for the people and those who are considered the hostile class? What do you know about North Korea and what do you know about their prison camps? The answers to these questions and much more will be covered in this book. Those who have read this book in our book club have all said they had never heard about how severe conditions are in North Korea and/or about the fact that these prison camps exist (which North Korea claims don't exist, yet can be seen on Goggle maps).

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring
Becoming Nicole

How is it possible for one of an identical boy twins to become female? How does this affect each person in the family (mother, father, and the twins)? Is being a transgender a choice? Find out the answers to these questions and more by reading this book. Want to better understand the whole bathroom issue (with allowing use by gender identity vs. gender anatomy), then read this book. Very informative.

Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Adventurous, Brilliant
The Snowchild

Is the snow child real or not? At what point do you make your decision to the reality of the snow child or not? What is the ending all about, how do you explain it? Is this a total fantasy or not? This is a very descriptively written story, easy to picture the scenery and struggles Mabel and Jack are dealing with. How much of the snow child is just a part of their desire and imagination in wanting a child and how much of it is real is for the reader to decide at the end of the story. If one ever wanted to go off to the final frontier and try to make it this is a good story for them to read.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Immortal life of Henriette Lacks

Even though this book is about the story of Henriette Lacks and the use of her body tissue in 1951 to create an immortal cell line, many of the concerns brought out in this book still exist today. Who own or controls any body tissue once it is removed from you? What rights do you as the patient have over your removed body tissues or cell? These questions still be need to be answered. The book is a great study of race, medical treatments and discoveries of the 1950's. Have you ever wondered when, where and how all those medical breakthroughs (such as the creation of drugs to combat various viruses, the discovery of DNA and so on) came about? This book helps explain all of this. It is a great way to look back at history and see all the discoveries that are in use today and how the people back then where treated (especially blacks). It is good to be able to look back in history and see how things began and how far we have come since then. But the big question still exists today, who should get compensated when body tissue is used to make commercial products, how much control should the individual it came from have and how much should they be compensated? The book is a little heavier reading because of the science and medical information brought out but well worth the read to learn about our past and what we all take for granted today pertaining to medical cures and discoveries.

Book Club Recommended
Informative, Boring, Slow
The Book of Ages

From the hype I was hoping for much more information on Jane Franklin, but got more about her brother Franklin instead. But, having said that for what little information the author had to work with she wrote an interesting book. If you like reading about history and that time period you will find this book interesting. The reader will learn about life during the mid 1700's to the mid 1800's especially for women. The lack of educational opportunities, the lack of good medical care, the lack of and kind of life for women other than being expected to become wives and mothers. I found the last part of the book dealing with history in general the most interesting part. Our book club spent some time discussing history and it's interpretation and how that has changed with today's technology. Not a smooth read, a little slow, a little boring but still worth a read if you are into history and learning about that time period.

Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Boring, Pointless
A Spool of blue thread

This could be a story of any family in America. Follow the family stories of Junior and Linnie to Red and Abby and their children. If you like stories that follow families and lives this would be a good book for you to read. Not a really exciting book but one that will hold your interest while reading it.

Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Boring, Epic
A Prayer for Owen Meany

Who or what is Owen Meany? Is this the story of John or Owen's life? A boy who is born small and loud and his best friend are tied together for life. Why and how are to be figured out in the story which you don't really get the full story until almost the end of the book. The story gives you much to think about and to discuss. Everyone in our group really enjoyed reading and discussing this book.

Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club) by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting
Icy Sparks

What is it like to grow up with tourette's but have no idea you have this disorder or why you are acting the way you are? Would you keep your pops and twitches secret? Learn about a 10 year old girl who first shows signs of this. She only thinks it is because she is sinful or bad and as a result becomes a very lonely person. A powerful story about the disorder of tourette's and how cruel others can be if you are different and unacceptable. Can be a very powerful book to read and discuss. This story takes place in the 1950's, how far has medicine come since then and how far have we come in the acceptance of those who are different from us?

Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Slow
American Heiress

Did Patty Hearst voluntarily join the SLA or not? According to Toobin she did. But back in the early 70's we did not know about Stockholm Syndrome, so is Toobin wrong? It was interesting to read this book and to bring back the memories of the 60' and 70's. One will keep questioning why didn't Patty escape when she had all those chances? But keep in mind John Wayne's comment at the end of the book, if one man (Jim Jones) could get so many to commit suicide why wouldn't one young girl be influenced by the SLA. Even though Toobin says Patty fell in love with Willy, but then later says by today's standards her sex with him could only be rated as rape. So why doesn't he think she could have been brain washed to do what she did with the SLA. Our group had a good and long discussion of the book.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Insightful, Beautiful
A Man Called Ova

A grumpy old man who after his wife dies and then he looses his job only wants to die to be with her once again. We could all understand Ova desire to end his life to be with his wife who he loves with all his heart and so question why he is not successful with 5 attempts. He is always interrupted in his attempts and eventually when he is attacked and almost dies wants to live. This is a great story of one dealing with depression after the lost of his wife and job. But what makes Ova the way he is and why does Sonja marry him? We all know an Ova and often wonder why they are like that and how it would be interesting to know more about them. There are so many great quotes in the book to discuss. The characters are all well developed and interesting. We think most people who read this book will find it an enjoyed read.

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Informative
Books for living

Not your typical book club book but well worth reading. The author talks about books he has read and the meaning he got out of them. Great, great quotes can be obtained for discussion of books you have read and shared. The whole point of the book is to help you to learn that every book has something to learn from it! Even, as the author says. to learn how bad it was compared to all the others you have read. As I said not your typical book club book but well worth the reading and guaranteed to lead to good discussion.

Informative, Insightful, Interesting
Founding Mothers

Cokie Roberts gives the reader a chance to learn about the Founding Mothers (those married to the Founding Fathers and a few others as well) who have been either ignored or not included in the telling of our history. The first half of the book provides more information on these women than the second half. By the second half Cokie seems to have run out of information about the women and seems to spend more time about the men. But it did lead to some interesting discussion. We kept coming back to the aspect of many of the same issues and concerns back in that time period are still being dealt with today.

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